May 11, 2022

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The largest known galaxy has just been discovered, and you won’t believe how huge it is

The largest known galaxy has just been discovered, and you won't believe how huge it is

Scientists have discovered the largest galaxy ever known. The new discovery is located about 3 billion light-years away. The galaxy, called Alcyoneus, is a giant radio galaxy. The galaxy is about 16.3 million light-years long. For reference, our galaxy measures less than 106,000 light-years away. This makes Alcyoneus 153.77 times taller than Milky Way.

Alcyoneus is the largest known galaxy in the universe

Radio telescopes and the Milky Way at nightImage source: zhengzaishanchu / Adobe

Giant radio galaxies like Alyoneus are another mystery that we still have to solve. This massive galaxy, and many like it, contain a host galaxy, as well as massive jets and lobes erupting from the galactic center. Scientists believe these jets and lobes are a byproduct of an active ingredient giant black hole At the center of the galaxy. As such, these massive galaxies are some of the most interesting we’ve discovered in space.

Despite the size of the Alcyoneus, the type of radio lobes it emits is very normal. In fact, our galaxy contains its own set of radio lobes. But what’s even more mysterious about galaxies like Alcyoneus is how they grow so large. As Alcyoneus is the largest known galaxy we’ve discovered so far, it continues to highlight how little we know about the celestial world around us.

Increasing our understanding of radio galaxies

SupernovaImage source: NASA / European Space Agency / Hubble

A team of researchers has created a file paper Dedicated to this issue. The researchers publish the paper in Astronomy and astrophysics thus. In the paper, astronomer Martijn Oei says that Alcyoneus can help us better understand radio galaxies as a whole.

“If there are properties of host galaxies that are an important reason for the growth of giant radio galaxies, it is likely that hosts of the largest giant radio galaxies will have them,” explains Oe in a preliminary edition of the paper (via ScienceAlert).

The research team was looking for outliers in data collected by the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) in Europe when they discovered the largest galaxy known to date. During their studies, they removed the embedded radio sources from the images. This helped reveal the radiofrequency lobes and correct any visual abnormalities. The researchers say the result is the most sensitive search they have ever assembled on radio lobes of galaxies. It’s also how they found Alcyoneus.

After its initial discovery, researchers continued to manipulate the data surrounding the Alcyoneus. It’s an attempt to better understand the host galaxy and how radio galaxies like this. Other information identified during the study includes the mass of the galaxy. According to the study, the largest known galaxy is surrounded by a cosmic web with a mass more than 240 billion times the mass of the Sun. In addition, they believe that the supermassive black hole in the center has a mass of 400 million times the mass of the Sun.

However, finding the largest known galaxy in the universe has only brought more questions to the table. How are these galaxies formed? Are there bigger galaxies out there? And how much will Alcyoneus grow in the coming years?